So, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
And tonight it happened. Now, to be fair, I think that the bones of this recipe works, but it really just wasn’t coming together. When all was said and done it was 9:00 and my dinner was mediocre. But, I learned an important lesson, and that is this: Know the temperature of thy oven.
I’ve been thinking of roasting a quartered chicken for a while now. The weather is on the verge of crisp here and there’s something about roasted chicken that I find to be incredibly versatile and comforting. I also find roasted chicken to be supremely easy to make in this fashion. The skin helps ensure it doesn’t dry out too easily. The smell is divine. It doesn’t involve a lot of persnickety steps.
When I roast a bird—either a full chicken or pieces as here—I always make an herb butter to rub under the skin and I cook more than I know I will eat. For this one, I mixed together thyme and garlic for the pieces I was going to eat tonight, and rubbed just butter under the pieces that I was planning on using later. After that, you just simply salt, pepper, and place in an oven preheated to 450. According to Mark Bittman it should take 30 minutes. According to my oven, which I later learned has a totally inaccurate temperature setting, it will take an hour.
But, despite the fact that it took way too long for the chicken to cook, it turned out pretty good. Granted, by this point I was starving so it could have been totally awful and I probably would have enjoyed it nonetheless.
[Another benefit of cooking for one: there’s only one person to complain when it takes ages for dinner to get on the table…er…couch]
Now, for the side. As a former Midwesterner, I am pretty obsessed with starches and carbs. There’s nothing like some good oven-roasted baby potatoes to accompany this chicken. I had some fennel leftover from when I made Pan Seared Salmon, which highlights potatoes really well. Add some garlic, onion, seasonings, drizzle with olive oil and you are well on your way to a delicious side that’s only downside is that it takes a while to cook (40 minutes or so at 375 when your oven isn’t wonky). Where I went wrong was that I perhaps got a little too creative (yes, there is such a thing) and added some diced acorn squash. It was great in theory (so much so that even now I can’t figure out where the flavor went wrong!), but in actuality it left a lot to be desired. The texture of the squash was just a bit too soft in contrast to the crispiness of the potatoes. It was a lovely looking dish, to be certain, but it turned out to be a bit of a dud.
Yet, despite the disappointment in my dinner, I felt oddly hopeful. I think cooking is a great metaphor for a lot of things in life. Sometimes dishes don’t turn out as you expected. They burn, are oversalted, or strange. It happens. But you don’t stop eating as a result. You find a new recipe, a new methodology, a new skill and keep moving forward. Most importantly, if you allow them, the #fails inform the future, making you a better, stronger cook.